Remember January 20, 1997? It was the day that Bill Clinton took office for the
second time. The American people had decided to return
"The Comeback Kid" to the Oval Office hoping that the concerns about his honesty
and integrity were simply media hallucinations and Republican schemes to reduce his
credibility as a force in American politics. On that day he put his hand on the Bible and
clearly stated "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of
President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and
defend the Constitution of the United States." His second inaugural address reflected
the hope of the American people when he said "Each and every one of us, in our own
way, must assume personal responsibility -- not only for ourselves and our families, but
for our neighbors and our nation."
How prophetic those words would be.
Fast foward to January 20, 1998. After numerous accusations and scandals from Whitewater to inappropriate actions with FBI files, within the White House Travel Office, and a sexual harassment lawsuit by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, new allegations have surfaced. A young intern at working at the White House, Monika Lewinsky, has been taped making statements that she had an affair with the President and that she was encouraged by him and his advisor, Vernon Jordan, to lie about the affair. If Clinton did advise Lewinsky to lie to the special prosecutor about the affair, he may be guilty of obstruction of justice, the same crime for which Richard Nixon would have been impeached had the hearing gone that far. If Clinton is innocent of such a charge, then Lewinski is guilty of lying at some point in the chain of events. Who do you believe?
Need to know more? Two sources of information have emerged on the Internet as responsible and up-to-date media outlets:
Both news sites have to-the-minute coverage of the events unfolding in Washington. The Washington Scandal site illustrates how news will be handled in the Information Age with the World Wide Web as a new and dynamic player in the media frenzy.
While our school cannot be held responsible for the content of those sites, these sites are just a few that contain countless reports, video and audio clips, as well as discussion boards for their viewers to enjoy. Please return to our site and share your thoughts with our staff and students via e-mail. Your submission will be considered by the webmaster, Social Studies teacher George Cassutto, and it may be used as the basis for class discussion. It may even be posted to the web site as an example of level-headed analysis and calm political thinking.
Thanks for visiting and for writing.
Discussion Questions on The Presidency In Crisis
1) Are the private actions of the president relevant to his role as chief executive of the US Government? Why or why not?
2) The president has delivered his 1998 State of the Union Address. Was it appropriate for the President to omit any reference to the scandal in his speech? Did the manner in which he delivered his speech relieve some of the pressure that was on him due to the scandal? Why or why not?
3) Are these allegations just a continuation of a pattern that Clinton has established since he ascended into the national public eye, or are these allegations something new and different in Clinton's public life?
4) Aside from these accusations, how do you rate Clinton's performance as president since his first inauguration in 1993?
5) If the allegations regarding the affair with Lewinsky prove to be true, what can be said about the judgment capabilities of the President? If he demonstrates these lapses in judgment regarding his personal life, might this reflect the quality (or lack thereof) of judgment in his political life?
6) If there seems to be evidence that Clinton did commit obstruction of justice, should the House Judiciary Committee begin impeachment proceedings against him?
7) What do you thing will be the effect of this political crisis on America's image around the world, both politically and militarily?
8) How will this weakening of the presidency effect the economy? Will the stock market destabilize? Will Clinton policies find less support in Congress if lawmakers know he is distracted by the crisis?
9) What position do you think Al Gore should be taking in the wake of the allegations against his boss? Should he distance himself from Clinton, or support his boss unconditionally?
10) The methods used by Kenneth Starr to obtain the initial "evidence" have come under fire. Should he have used a friend of Lewinsky's to tape her without her knowledge?
11) Has the media made too much out of the extra-marital affairs of Bill Clinton, or is his personal life a legitimate area of journalistic interest?